270,000 Nurses consider taking strike action!
Date: Thursday, 13 April 2017
Publication: The News Line
MORE than a quarter of a million nurses could be balloted in May for immediate strike action to smash the Tory pay freeze.
The Royal College of Nursing said yesterday that 270,000 nursing professionals working in the NHS in the UK are voting on-line from today whether to have the strike ballot.
The RCN members are voting two weeks after Tory Chancellor Hammond announced a further below-inflation pay rise in his budget.
Low pay is responsible in part for tens of thousands of unfilled nursing posts and unsafe staffing levels, harming the quality of patient care, said the RCN yesterday. The on-line ‘pay poll’ explicitly asks RCN members if they want to strike – a separate formal ballot will be required by law ahead of any industrial action.
Last week, the elected governing body of the RCN voted to carry out the poll on members’ views, which closes on Sunday 7th May. The results will be announced at the RCN’s annual Congress in Liverpool in the middle of the month.
Since 2010, the government has inflicted a 14 per cent real-terms cut on nursing pay – a formal pay cap of 1 per cent was introduced in 2015 after year-on-year pay freezes in the previous Parliament.
Janet Davies, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the RCN, said yesterday: ‘Years of real-terms pay cuts have left too many struggling to make ends meet. Nurses should not have to fund the NHS deficit from their own pay packets.
‘The government would be wrong to dismiss this as sabre-rattling. We have a duty to give nursing staff a voice and show how strongly they feel. If our members want to have a formal ballot on a strike, then it will be carried out without delay …
‘Whatever nurses decide, it is becoming clear that their goodwill cannot be relied on indefinitely. The government pay cap is fuelling a recruitment and retention crisis that is as damaging for patient care standards as it is for the nurses themselves.’